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The 5th anniversary celebration of the union between the Republic of Tanganyika and the People's Republic of Zanzibar

By Paul T. Shipale
I was deeply honoured to be part of the delegation, headed by the Founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation, His Excellency Dr Sam Nujoma, to the historic milestone marking the Jubilee Celebration of the Union between the Republic of Tanganyika and the People's Republic of Zanzibar, to express our fraternal congratulations and solidarity to the Government and the people of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania. I felt truly at home in that beautiful sister country.

Like Namibia, Tanzania too was a protectorate in the late 19th century of the Imperial Germany troops which conquered the country and incorporated it into German East Africa. The post–World War I accords and the Leagues of Nations charter designated the area a British Mandate, except for the Kionga Triangle, a small area in the Southeast that was incorporated into Portuguese East Africa, later Mozambique.

In 1954, Mwalimu Nyerere formed the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) with the main objective to achieve national sovereignty. A campaign to register new members was launched, and within a year Tanganyika African National Union had become the leading political organisation in the country. Mwalimu Nyerere became Minister of British-administered Tanganyika in 1960 and continued as Prime Minister when Tanganyika became independent in 1961. British rule came to an end in 1961 after a relatively peaceful transition to independence, compared with neighbouring Kenya.

After the Zanzibar Revolution overthrew the Arab dynasty in neighbouring Zanzibar, which had become independent in 1963, the archipelago merged with mainland Tanganyika on 26 April 1964. The Union is now headed by His Excellency, Jakaya Kikwete, deputised by His Excellency Mohammed Gharib Bilal, Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania. Thus the 26 of April was a day to remember as it marked the 50th Anniversary of the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar under the theme "Our Tanzanian ship is our union, let us defend, consolidate and make it firm".

The Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar is undoubtedly unique and has been the building block for the establishment of the East-African Community and ultimately, the proposed United States of Africa. Indeed, this union is a clear example of a true African Unity as envisioned by the Lates Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere and Sheikh Abeid Karume when the States of Tanganyika and Zanzibar agreed to unite for the benefit of all Tanzanians.

Mwalimu Nyerere personally advocated for African Unity starting with the formation of Regional Economic Grouping as the building blocks. Following consultation with the leaders from the then Pan-African Freedom Movement from East, Central and Southern Africa (PAFMECSA), Mwalimu Nyerere issued a statement at the Conference of Independent African States in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1960 saying: "Many of us agree without pretences or inhibitions that the East African Federation will be a good thing. We have stated this, and it remain true, that the borders separating our countries were put in place not by ourselves but by imperialists.

Therefore, we should not allow them to be used against our unity … we must persistently knock at the offices of the colonialist not to demand the independence of Tanganyika, then Kenya and Uganda and finally Zanzibar, but we must do it to demand the independence of East Africa as one political federation." The United Republic of Tanzania has been home for decades to SWAPO under the leadership of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, a foresighted revolutionary and charismatic leader as well as a political mentor to many freedom fighters. Following Tanzania's achievement of independence in 1961, the country became the Mecca for the National Liberation Movements from East, Central and Southern Africa.

After the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, (OAU) on the 25th May 1963, Tanzania hosted the Headquarters of the OAU Liberation Committee, headed by Brigadier General Hashim Bita who played a critical role in assisting our liberation movements with the necessary means to wage the armed liberation struggle for the total liberation of our continent from the yoke of colonialism and foreign domination. Founding President Nujoma met Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere when he arrived in Tanganyika in 1960, on his way to New York to petition the United Nations on behalf of the people of Namibia.

Mwalimu Nyerere's commitment to Africa's struggle against oppression is unparalleled and his dedication to the cause of African Unity is immeasurable. He is a true Pan-Africanist who is quoted to have said: I am telling you people, how can anybody think of a tribe as the unity of the future? "(K Nyerere, 1997) Nyerere's patriotism was unmistaken, his commitment and devotion to Africa unquestionable and his integrity outstanding. His achievements were many, and leaders in Africa, present and future ones, will be judged according to the yardsticks set by people like Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. When the question of the seat for the Headquarters for the OAU Secretariat came up for discussion, President Nkrumah proposed Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, on the grounds that Bangui was at the geographical center of the entire African continent, President Nyerere, however, persuaded his colleagues to choose Addis Ababa on the grounds that it was the capital of the continent's oldest independent state.

When conflicts occurred, as they inevitably did at the OAU and in the area of liberation politics, Nyerere, as the Mwalimu that he was, used his gifts of analysis and reasoning to reach the right resolutions. For example, the assassination of Eduardo Mondlane, the founder of FRELIMO, caused a serious leadership crisis for the Mozambican struggle. The Angolan freedom fighters also had their problems as did others. Mwalimu was tireless in his efforts in the resolution of these difficulties, making sure that the real objectives were always kept in sight.

When necessary, he was also fearless in standing his own ground in the face of people like Ian Smith of Rhodesia and his UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence). This was an illegal act and the British had the responsibility of bringing Smith to order, declared Nyerere, and if they did not, his country would end diplomatic relations with the UK. When the British did not act, this is exactly what happened in 1965.

President Nyerere worked closely with President Kaunda of Zambia, also a border state and rear-base to the ANC, MPLA and SWAPO, and these two statesmen, with their evident simplicity, their sense of humour and their sophisticated use of the English language dominated the OAU Summits over the years as their other comrades (Ben Bella, Nkrumah, Nasser) left the stage.

Namibia and Africa owe Mwalimu Nyerere and the people of Tanzania a debt of gratitude because it was at a time when he was at the helm of the then young United Republic of Tanzania that SWAPO established it first office in exile, in Dar-es-Salaam. It is also during this time that SWAPO was given the facilities and opportunity at Kongwa, near Ddoma in Central Tanzania, to form and build the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) SWAPO's Military Wing, which, over a period of nearly three decades, carried out a protracted and bitter struggle against the minority white South African regime until the attainment of Namibia's Freedom and Independence on the 21st March 1990. Thus, the friendship and strong bonds of solidarity between Namibia and Tanzania are not new. They date to our time in the struggle for freedom and independence. We cannot forget that only a few decades ago, Africa was described in supercilious tones as the Dark Continent.

However, through their heroic efforts, the people of Africa rent asunder the veil of darkness that colonial and imperialist domination had draped over the continent. Acting as self-confident and conscious makers of history, as liberators, we destroyed and buried an entire historical epoch that had been imposed on the peoples of the universe by an allegedly enlightened few from Europe and North America. We who were described as backwards became the midwives of the new social reality of independent people, the collapse of the colonial system, and confounded those who, having invested themselves with an omnipotent and omniscient personality, had thought such a result impossible, undesirable and even inconceivable.

In December 1997 Mwalimu Nyerere's came to take part in the international conference on Reflections on Leadership in Africa – Forty Years after Independence, at the University of Dar es Salaam. The conference was in honour of his 75th Birthday and was organised jointly by the Institute of Development Studies of the University of Dar es Salaam and the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation. Nkrumah Hall at the university, with a capacity of 500 to 600 people, was full to overflowing. It was obvious that the centre of attraction was Mwalimu Nyerere, and that they all came to see him and hear him.

After the keynote address by Tanzania Vice-President, the late Dr Omar Ali Juma, Mwalimu Nyerere was asked to speak. He spoke for more than one and a half hours, entirely extempore. It was one of his best speeches. It was full of humour, but also deeply serious, thought provoking, and providing a sense of direction. The audience loved him.

In the workshops where Mwalimu Nyerere was participating, he was very active, speaking with his usual lucidity of elaboration and illustration. In one session, the audience was pensive, watching him exchanging views with Issa Shivji on the land question; and at another he wanted the South African academic, Patrick Bond, and a few others to follow him to his Msasani residence to continue with the discussion.

Bond had raised the issue of Afrikaner capital in the Southern Africa region and the way it was behaving. I therefore pay sincere tribute to Mwalimu Nyerere and to the OAU Coordinating Committee for the liberation of Africa, and to the parent body of the Organisation of Africa Unity, as well as to Africa's allies, supporters and genuine friends beyond her borders, for the seminal role they have played to ensure the monumental victories until the protracted struggle for the total decolonisation of the continent has reached its final stage, despite the Pretoria regime's objectives of compelling submission and surrender as their Causa belli in Southern Africa. Nyerere gave a wise elder's parting advice to Black Africa to be self-reliant and go it alone; to not rely on any other people whatsoever, as none of them have it in their self-interest to help develop Black Africa. That we are on our own means that Black Africa should organize itself, by itself and for itself.

"One should live so that in dying one can say: I gave all my strength for the liberation of humanity". (Haroub Othman University of Dar es Salaam 12 October 2005). Indeed, Mwalimu Nyerere is the father of the African Freedom Movement and deserves to be recognised as such. He truly had the interest of his country and the African people's interests at heart and view unity and inclusivity as very important for Africa.

Once again, congratulations to Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania. Disclaimer: These views do not necessarily represent the views of my employer nor am I paid to write them.


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